Parliamentary Transport Committee supports railway industry’s call to end ‘boom and bust’ in UK rail funding

28 June 2018

Today the UK Parliamentary Transport Select Committee published its report on rail infrastructure investment in the UK. The Railway Industry Association – the trade body for the UK rail industry – gave written and oral evidence to the committee on two main issues. It argued for an end to the ‘boom and bust’ cycle endemic in the Control Period funding system; and it also called for the Government to keep an open mind on electrification as the UK seeks to decarbonise the rail network.

On funding, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: 
“The Railway Industry Association (RIA) strongly welcomes the Transport Select Committee’s report published today, seeking an end to ‘boom and bust’ in the rail funding system where rail suppliers need to increase their capacity at the start of the funding period, but then see a sharp drop-off in workload near the end.
“As the committee recognises, ‘boom and bust’ has plagued rail since the current Control Period funding system was set up in the 1990s, leading to job losses in the supply sector, reduced investment, and jeopardising the ability of rail companies, particularly SMEs, to survive. It also increases the cost of running the rail network by up to 30%, which is bad for both the passenger and the taxpayer.
“So it is great news that the committee supports RIA’s key ‘ask’ to get all the key stakeholders into a room, including rail suppliers, DfT, Network Rail, and the Office of Rail and Road, to identify ways rail investment can be smoothed for future Control Periods. Whilst we support the concept of five year funding cycles, with the next Control Period starting in just a few months’ time in April 2019, everyone needs to work together now to ensure deficiencies in the system do not occur in future.”
On electrification, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, added: 
“We enthusiastically welcome both the Transport Select Committee’s support for the Railway Industry Association’s Electrification Cost Challenge programme in its report published today, and its recommendation that the DfT and Network Rail work with RIA to produce a report within the year on making electrification more cost-effective.
“Electrification still remains the optimal form of traction for intensively-used railway. It costs the rail network less in the medium to long term, reduces wear and tear on the track, lowers the cost of train maintenance, and delivers a more environmentally sustainable network. Whilst we join the committee in supporting the development of bi-mode, battery, hydrogen and other alternative fuel sources for train traction, electrification still needs to remain in the Government’s thinking if it wants to deliver on its commitment to decarbonise the rail network by 2040.
“RIA will publish a report this summer on how the costs of electrification can be reduced. We look forward to working with the committee, Government, Network Rail and the wider rail industry further to deliver on this in the months ahead.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Transport Select Committee report can be found here.
  2.  About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the representative body for UK-based suppliers to the UK and world-wide railways. It has more than 200 companies in membership in a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people—more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a growing industry with the number of rail journeys expected to double over the next 25 years and freight set to grow significantly too.  RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry.

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